12 Easy Strategies that Empower Struggling Homemakers {Part 4 of the Busy at Home Series}

Welcome to the last post in the Busy at Home Series. I’ve been excited to share this one since I planned it a month ago. You can catch up by reading the posts below or go straight to the tips!

Part 1: My Battle with Being “Busy at Home”
Part 2: Does God Care About My Messy House?
Part 3: Singing, Praising, and Cleaning? Homemaking as Worship


I used to live in shame about the condition of my house and the chaos in my life. These are 12 strategies that have changed my home, my attitude, and my life. I will never have it all together, but I’ve realized I don’t have to! I just need to keep things functioning smoothly enough that life can move forward without undue stress and frustration.

12 Strategies that Empower Struggling Homemakers: Part 4 of the Busy at Home Series at Grace to Soar

I want to share with you some habits that have changed my life for the better. Pick one or two to try out this week and let me know how it goes! Most of these habits aren’t original; I didn’t invent some magic system. Instead, these are tips I’ve learned from experience, friends, or a variety of resources.

1) Go to bed

This is a good one, right! Get at least eight hours of sleep in your bed, not on the couch. Going to bed will make you twice as productive tomorrow, since you won’t be dragging and yawning. Plus you’ll be nicer and that automatically makes your home more peaceful and productive.

If you’re the mom of a newborn, I’m sorry this one is probably impossible. Do the best you can, my friend. The day will come when this will apply to you again- I promise!

2) Wake up before your family

Almost any list you read will include this strategy, because it’s that important. Getting up before your family makes SUCH a big difference in the day. This strategy means you have time to shower in peace before anybody asks you for anything! This is empowering because you take care of yourself before you have to take care of anyone else. In these early moments, do what makes your soul feel settled.

I typically get up an hour or more before my son to get ready, drink hot chocolate, and read my Bible. If you’re not a morning person, getting up 15 minutes earlier is better than nothing. There have been a few times when I’ve slept in and let my son, Noah, wake me up. Those days are spent in reaction mode, trying to squeeze in self-care between numerous requests from my 3-year-old.

 

3) Establish a Weekly Routine

Give each day a focus. This is mine:

Monday- Home
Tuesday- Friends
Wednesday- Community
Thursday- Work/Writing
Friday- Marriage
Saturday- Family
Sunday- God

This helps me ensure that I take care of all the important parts of my life. It’s just a guide; it doesn’t mean I won’t meet a friend for lunch on a Wednesday or that I only write on Thursday.

I’m in an interesting season of life when I’m a part-time stay at home mom, part-time work from home mom, and a part-time working mom. My weekly schedule and how I implement it will be different from your ideal. And that’s okay! Think about the most important areas of your life and designate a day to focus on them- even the slightest bit of attention to this will make a big difference.

This idea came from FlyLady. Here’s her article about it.

12 Easy Strategies for Struggling Homemakers

4) Focus on the next 3

On busy days, do you have an ongoing overwhelming dialogue of a thousand things to do? I do and it can be paralyzing. Instead of making a to-do list of 35 things, I just write the next 3 I’m going to do. I finish those three tasks, then write three more. If there are tasks I absolutely have to complete, I’ll write those on the back of the paper and move them into the list on the front as I go.

This is also my go-to strategy for bad depression days. It’s hard to turn off the anxiety of thinking about the next eleven tasks while I’m struggling to just pick out clothes for the day. So on those days, my next 3 might look something like this:

The Next 3 Strategy: One of 12 Strategies that Empower Struggling Homemakers

5) Use a Timer

This is a revolutionary strategy (also from FlyLady).

Whatever task you need to do, set a timer for 15 minutes and work on it. When the timer goes off, stop.

Stop. Really.

Take a break. Respond to a text. Whatever.

If you need another 15 minutes to work on the task, repeat the steps above.

You will be amazed how much you can get done in 15 minutes. We let tasks grow in our minds until we dread them because we think they’ll take so long we’ll never be able to get them done. But in reality, it might only take 15 minutes. Or less.

Seriously, time yourself the next time you fold and put away a load of laundry. It’ll probably take you less than 10 minutes.

6) Randomize your to-do list with dice

This is maybe my favorite of all the tips.

Make a list of 6 tasks you need to work on. You can list the same task twice, too. Example:

The Randomize Strategy: One of 12 Strategies that Empower Struggling Homemakers
Yep, Noah’s closet is a doozy!

Then either roll a real die (if you have one) or a Dice app (what I use). Work 10 minutes on the task beside the number you rolled. After 10 minutes, stop and roll again. It’s cheesy, but it totally helps me get things done!

7) Complete 3 Dailies and 3 Weeklies

I’m catching on that I like to work in groups of three.

Remember we’re focusing on creating a well-functioning home, not a museum of household perfection. With that in mind, list the top 3 things that you have to do every day to keep your house running. Just three!

My dailies are dishes, laundry, and trash. 

I don’t need to actually take the trash out everyday, but I need to check the little trashcans in the house or they’re an overflowing pile before I notice it. (Remember how I’m comfortable with mess?!)

Every day, be sure to do *something* to tackle your 3 dailies.

Now think of three things that need to be done weekly to keep your home functioning and inviting.

My weeklies are floors, bathrooms, and meal planning.

Again, yours may be different. You may be cringing that I made bathrooms a weekly instead of a daily. In that case, you’re probably not my target audience here.

I’d be lying to you if I said my whole house gets vacuumed once a week. That’s the goal, though, and by setting the goal it happens more than it did previously!

8) Simplify

Simplify everything.

Simplifying your wardrobe means fewer items to wash, dry, and put away.

Simplifying your meals means easier meal planning and preparation.

Simplifying your belongings means fewer items to dust, organize, or cram in a closet.

Simplifying your schedule means more time to do what matters.

Things don’t have to complicated or impressive to be fulfilling.

9) Say No

Whole books have been written on this topic. But seriously, say no to some things. Of course your house is a mess if you’re only there to sleep. Of course you feel frazzled if you’re always running from one thing to the next.

God tells us to take care of our husbands, our children, and our homes (Titus 2:4-5)

Everything else is secondary.

10) Say Yes

Say yes to fun! Say yes to things that feed your spirit! Say yes to things that bond your family together!

Saying yes to the right things fills your joy tank. And that makes everything easier- even laundry.

11) Play defense

Try to stop the mess before it starts.

Put things up instead of putting them down.

Keep the dishwasher empty so dishes can go straight in there instead of piling in the sink.

Skip buying items you don’t need, instead of collecting them and then donating them in a year or so.

12) Focus on function

There are enough things to clean in a home to keep us busy every minute of every day of every year. And that would be an awful life. Having guilt hanging over your head about a messy house also creates an awful life.

Do what helps your home and family function. Then do whatever else your schedule and energy allows. And let the rest go.

For example, the top of my fridge is always a big pile of paper:

It doesn’t create any added stress for us (usually) and I’m fine inviting people over in spite of it. So it stays. And I don’t feel guilty. In fact, I only occasionally even notice it.

However, this  overflowing laundry basket affects my family:

Someone will definitely need something from this basket soon and digging through it will cause frustration. So the laundry takes priority over the top of the fridge.

Among Friends

I have heard from so many of you through comments and emails during this series. You and I are among a tribe of struggling homemakers around the world. You are among friends here. I’m just a fellow struggling homemaker, humbly offering some ideas that have worked for me.

These strategies can empower you to move beyond the guilt of a messy house and the chaos of a messy life. They have changed my life for the better, and I hope you find help through them too!


I’d love to hear from you: Do you already use any of these strategies? Which one do you think would be the easiest to start?

 


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21 Comments on "12 Easy Strategies that Empower Struggling Homemakers {Part 4 of the Busy at Home Series}"

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pjkuhn

I wish I had these when I was a young mother. I thought my home needed to be perfect at every moment and made my family uncomfortable in their own home. I’ve learned, but I regret those early years. I love the “focus on function.” My daughter told me recently, “I’ve discovered I don’t need to fold my rags. I have a cute basket and keep them in there.” She was influenced by those years I tried for perfection, but I’m happy she’s learning to keep the important things most important.

Lo

My favorite is number 8! That has made such a huge difference for me over the past few months. And this last year especially.

Anonymous
I too like number 8. It’s the idea that less is more. Another favorite tip is one my dad used when I was growing up. He wanted us to lay everything out for school (book bags packed, lunch boxes on the counter and coffee maker prepped) before going to bed. It always made mornings less stressful. So my kids have everything ready the night before and I program the coffee maker to strart brewing 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. Truly nothing better than the smell of fresh coffee as you thank God for the blessing of waking up… Read more »
Alex @ Grace Upon Grace Today

I’m a firm believer in dailies and weeklies. As a teacher, I have a list of my dailies and weeklies on my desk. I go through a little slip of paper each and every week. Makes my job so much easier!
I also recently got married and your “say no” and “say yes” advice is spot on. There ARE things I definitely have to say yes and no to!

Lisa Yvonne

#8 is really the one that has made the biggest difference for me. That and getting up early. This series is fabulous, and I’m so glad I happened upon it!

Olu Afolabi
Olu Afolabi

Good one Beka! Caps the whole series well. My favourite is playing defense!

Kristi

I need to work on #1 more. I can turn into such a night owl and think I’m in a totally productive mode because I”m getting a ton done and then the next day is ruined because I’m so tired.

Kim

I love this! I don’t have children, but my husband and I both work at least 40 hours a week at our day-jobs. Trying to find time to pursue my other passions, please my employer, my husband, my family, and keep a house running is overwhelming. I can’t imagine doing it with kids! Loved reading this, thanks for sharing, God bless!

Scott LaPierre

Hi Beka,
These are great points. I especially appreciated the first one about getting enough sleep, and the ninth one about saying no. I think one of the big competitors to getting enough sleep is social media. People staying up late on Facebook. As far as saying no, I’ve told our church that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. Opportunity cost. We have to prioritize.

Bethany

Loved it. I can’t wait to go back and read the previous posts. I especially loved the list ideas! Sometimes struggling to make the decision about which thing to do next or how long to do it is my biggest hang up. Dice and timers may become my new best friends!

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